Taken (Soundtrack) by Laura Karpman



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Taken (Soundtrack) by Laura Karpman

"Taken by Familiarity"
Review by Matt Peterson


Taken (Soundtrack) by Laura Karpman


Spiderman (Soundtrack) by Danny Elfman

Composer Laura Karpman
Laura Karpman

Category    Score

Originality 7
Music Selection 9
Composition 8
CD Length 7
Track Order 8
Performance 7
Final Score 8/10


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"Overall, the limitations of the smaller ensemble make the score difficult to enjoy for fans who are accustomed to hearing larger products, but you still have to be impressed by Karpman's creative compensation and the magnitude of the project as a whole."

Christian Clemmenson - Filmtracks Reviews




Music composed by Laura Karpman-
Performed by The Hollywood Studio Symphony
Released by Varese Sarabande on March 18th, 2003

Spielberg’s fascination for extra terrestrials never seems to end. That’s fine with me, since he usually manages to produce some excellent material revolving around all those “little green men.” He continues his tradition of delivering quality science fiction by producing Taken, a 10 part, 20 hour mini series recently made for the Sci-Fi channel. Following the simply stunning Band of Brothers, it seems most TV projects Spielberg is involved with are worth one’s attention. Taken was extremely successful, and has been released in a lavish DVD box set. The epic project depicts the alien abductions of various individuals from the latter portion of the 20th century. Following several generations of the same family, a slice of American history is presented through the lens of many alien encounters.

With this kind of material and the involvement of Spielberg, one immediately begins thirsting for a John Williams score to complete the ensemble—or at least someone who sounds a lot like him. Composer Laura Karpman fits the bill quite nicely. If Michael Giacchino is a quasi-clone of Williams’ early action scoring, Karpman channels the maestro’s more emotional material. A veteran of many television projects, including the recent remake of Carrie, Karpman certainly had the experience of producing quality music in a very short time frame. For Taken, she would have to compose a score for 20 hours of material, with only an ensemble of 40. The result is stunning, even though the performance gets a bit messy at times.

Her style for Taken is a combination of familiar elements from many scores, most of which are sci-fi. From the opening bars, Williams’ E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind immediately come to mind. There is a clear similarity to these two classic sci-fi scores throughout the music, denoted by emotional motifs and some frenzied, jumping string portions. There are hints of James Horner’s thematic style, and elements from his superb score to The Spitfire Grill, including some acoustic guitar. Finally, James Newton Howard’s Signs shines through with various string bits, and occasional use of the fiddle, providing the obligatory sense of Americana. Thrown in with this thematic, varied work are some electronics and the somewhat clichéd but effective orchestral explosions, accentuating the horrific moments of the tale.

Let’s go thorough some tracks. The album by Varese is on the shorter side (45:43), but there is enough here to satisfy. The sweeping, majestic main theme Track 1 which opens the score is kind of formulaic, but emotes the right feel. “Implant Mania” Track 4 is an intriguing track with a very original sound. Ethereal electronics and a beautiful string portion combine with a distorted voice reciting a Psalm—this is hypnotic and different, yet strangely harmonic. A five-note motif, which first appears in “Spaceship,” recurs in later tracks—an homage to Williams’ five note calling card in CE3K? The aforementioned track is somewhat messy action cue, accentuated by bold piano crashes. “Artemis” recalls some of Williams whimsical themes associated with children, such as “Jim’s New Life” in Empire of the Sun. “Romans” captures some of the string work for the opening of Signs. “Mothership Arrival,” Track 6 a standout track, has some great Thomas Newman-like chord progressions, with a gradually increasing tempo. Percussion in “Tom’s Revenge” reminds me of Danny Elfman’s Mission: Impossible. Some tracks such as “Lift Off,” are chopped, varied horror music, clearly composed to match onscreen action—tempo can vary drastically. Still, these dissonant portions are well crafted and structured. Racing, ascending strings are an interesting musical personification of the track’s title. “Allie is Gone” provides a gentle, lyrical closing, concluded by a brassy reprise of the main theme.

Even though the elements that have gone into this score are familiar, the product sounds surprisingly fresh and varied. There are moments of pure horror music, soaring themes, gentle, emotive underscore, and some fine textures provided by unique electronics and nostalgic string instruments. None of the tracks really blew me away, but the quality is solid throughout. I was quite taken by the score, prompting me to give it a firm recommendation (sorry for the pun, but I couldn’t resist!).

Track Listing and Ratings


Title Time


1 Main Title Track 1 1:00  ****
2 Spaceship 1:41  ***
3 Artemis 2:37  ****
4 Implant ManiaTrack 4 2:42  ****
5 Romans 4:04  ****
6 Mothership Arrival Track 9 2:47  ****
7 To the Rescue 4:07  ****
8 Ride 2:28  ****
9 Tom's Revenge 2:32  **
10 Truth Kills Owen 2:38  ****
11 Allie's Fire 2:14  ****
12 Lift Off 4:35  ***
13 Mary's Dream 3:01  ****
14 Allie's Miracle 3:33  ****
15 Allie is Gone 4:53  ****

Total Running Time


Taken (Soundtrack) by Laura Karpman

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.


Referenced Reviews
 Band of Brothers




All artwork from Taken  is exclusive property of Varese Sarabande Records (c) 2003. 
 Its appearance is for informational purposes only. Review format version 5.8

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